Author Interview Questions
1: Hi, and thanks for joining today. In your own words tell us about yourself, not you the author, but just you!
A: I’m Madeline, and I live in the southwest of England. I’ve always had a strong love for anything dystopian, paranormal, or ghostly, and I can frequently be found exploring wild places. I also live on a farm, and have my own little herd of Shetland ponies, which I adore!
2: Why did you decide to become an author and what’s the best part? Yeah, it’s a double-whammy of a question. So unexpected!
A: Hmmm. I’ve always written, and writing is just part of who I am. I didn’t really decide one day to ‘become’ an author. I just love writing, and want to share my stories with everyone. I have to write. I need to. So being an author was the obvious thing for me to be, and it always has been.
And the best part of being an author? Definitely receiving emails from fans! I received a lovely message from a fan in the Philippines a few weeks ago, and it was so lovely hearing what my Untamed Series meant to her.
3: So, tell us about your work. Sell us on it! Why should we read it and why it will capture us?
A: I write speculative fiction for young adults, and all my stories tend to get quite dark. I’m just drawn to the darker stuff.
My debut novel, Untamed, was picked up by Prizm Books in 2014, and marketed as a dystopian tale for “edgy young adults” (because of the darker content: addiction, torture, and violence). In short, Untamed examines a world in which anyone who has negative emotions is hunted down, and a culture where addiction is encouraged. Seven Sarr, my main character, is a seventeen-year-old girl who’s on the run, as she’s one of the last Untamed humans and she desperately wants to keep the ability to feel all kinds of emotions (and not just the positive ones). But, when she’s kidnapped and converted by the Enhanced Ones, she soon becomes addicted to the lifestyle she hates. As the plot unravels, readers see Seven’s inner-conflict as she struggles with questions of identity, while she works out which group she belongs with—at the same time as being on the run, and trying to protect the other Untamed humans in her pack as they’re pursued by the Enhanced Ones. There are also spirits and Seers in the book too. Oh, and there’s some kissing.
New York Times bestselling author Pintip Dunn said this about Untamed: “A fantastic dystopian tale. Highly recommended for fans of strong heroines and intriguing sci-fi worlds.” So, I think that’s why you should read it!
4: Why did you choose the genre you write in over others to start your publishing career? Did others appeal to you more and you chose this? Was there a bit of choice weighing or was it rather simple?
A: Untamed was the fourth full-length manuscript I completed, but it was the first dystopian story I wrote. Prior to it, I’d only written fantasy and science fiction (though there are some fantasy elements in Untamed, and the sequel, Fragmented). I’ve always been drawn to the speculative fiction category as I love the freedom these genres offer, and how anything can happen. Untamed began as a bit of an experiment really (to see if I could write a dystopian story), but as soon as I got about 30,000 words into the first draft, I found that I loved writing in the dystopian genre and it really spoke to me. It felt right, and Untamed swiftly became the book of my heart.
Since then, I’ve predominantly stuck to the dystopian genre for my longer works, writing the rest of the Untamed Series, and a dystopian standalone that I’m still editing. I’m also moving back into fantasy and science fiction again, but mainly for shorter works. I’ve got a fairy tale novella releasing in April that’s a dark retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale.
5: So far, what would you say has been the hardest part of being an author?
A: I’d say the nature of the business-side of being an author is quite hard. It’s the uncertainty that can be difficult, as you can’t guarantee that your next book will be a success or that in a year’s time you’ll still be making a living from writing. But, when I find myself starting to get bogged down by all the uncertainty, I remind myself that the best thing I can do is to keep writing and producing new works.
6: Now for the ever-so-shocking follow-up question. What’s the best/easiest part, if there is one?
A: The easiest part, for me, is the writing itself. It’s losing myself in a first draft that I absolutely love, and living in that world for weeks at a time. It’s the best feeling ever, having written.
7: Tell us about what your experiences in the author life have been like. I don’t mean the writing aspects. I mean the daily human life. Tell us what it’s like to live the day life you do and be an author at the same time. What’s it like when people in your life and, the people you come across, find out you’re an author?
A: Well, I’m now a full-time writer, and I’ve found people’s reactions to this generally tend to be either, “Oh, that’s amazing! You’re an author! Wow!” or “But aren’t you going to get a proper job?”
There seem to be many people who don’t see a creative job as a career, and it can be quite disheartening. (I even had a teacher tell me I should be a carpet-fitter instead, as no one can write well until they’re forty—yeah, I know.)
I also look quite young for my age, and I regularly come across people who don’t believe that I’m a writer—or that I’m who I say I am. This happened once at a book signing: a man came up to me and asked when the ‘real’ author was going to arrive. I told him I was the writer, and it was obvious he didn’t believe me. That was a little awkward, and he left really quickly.
But when I come across the people who understand that writing is something worthwhile doing, and that it can become a job and a career choice, it’s great. Also, meeting other writers is wonderful, and I’m in a lot of online writing groups that I love.
8: Writing is a hard craft and a harder career. What are the things that keep you going, both in improving the craft and enduring the downs/lows of the career?
A: Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat is an excellent book on screenwriting that I often apply to my novel manuscripts as I’m working on them. In particular, it’s the beat sheet in that book that really helps me in nearly every plot I’m working on. Other books on the craft, and writing as a career, that greatly help me are Stephen King’s On Writing, Indie Author Survival Guide and For Love or Money by Susan Kaye Quinn, and The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.
The thing that helps me most when I’m enduring the lows of the writer’s life tends to be getting back to the actual writing. I’ve found I get the most down about the writing life when I’m bogged down in all the admin stuff, when I’m working very hard on the promotions and marketing side of the business, and when I’m just not writing. For that reason, I try to do some free-writing every day (either first thing in the morning or last thing at night) and it really helps me cope with doing the things that I don’t like doing as much, but that are still necessary to build my fanbase.
The other thing that’s important for me to do is keep reading. It’s so easy to stop, or think you don’t have time for it when you’re building up to a release, and sorting out huge promos, and are also under deadlines for your next books. But I’ve found I’m much more balanced if I have ‘down time’, and for me that’s reading or watching a good film or exploring the countryside. It’s important to take breaks.
9: What do you love about the genre you write and what others appeal to you?
A: With dystopian fiction, I love how these fictitious societies that are so threatening and oppressive, and seem so far away from our own experiences, actually interact with our own societies. The relationship between a dystopia and the real world really is fascinating.
In terms of other genres that appeal to me, I love crime fiction and thrillers. I’ve been working on-and-off on a young adult thriller…
10: Tell us about the plans for your series and body of work.
A: So, following the closure of my publisher, Untamed will re-release on January 10th, with a brand new cover and interior design. Fragmented, book two in the Untamed Series, will follow with its own re-release two weeks later. Divided, book three, is scheduled for a July 11th, 2017 release, and I’m predicting that the final book of the series will be available in Spring 2018.
I’ve also got a standalone dystopian manuscript completed, (as well as another standalone dystopian that I’m editing) and I’m trying to work out what to do with them both. Plus, I’ve been shopping the first book of an adult SF thriller around, and I’ve received an offer from a publisher on it. But I’m waiting to hear back from others before I make a decision.
11: The writing and publishing world has changed a lot. Self-publishing, small to medium presses popping up, and things like becoming a hybrid between indie pubbing and traditional. What are your thoughts on that? Any predictions on what the future might hold? What would you like to see, both as an author yourself, and, as a consumer/reader?
A: I think both traditional publishing and indie publishing have their advantages, and some books are inherently better suited to one model than the other. I really think it depends on the author and the individual book. Though, I have noticed that a lot of self-published authors are doing really well, and reading Susan Kaye Quinn’s Indie Author Survival Guide was a real eye-opener into the indie author business.
I started off as traditionally published, but when the publisher for my Untamed Series closed, I made the decision to set up my own self-publishing imprint (Ineja Press) to re-release my back titles to prevent my work from going out of print. The later books in the Untamed Series will also release straight from my self-publishing imprint (though of course they’ll still be professionally edited, and I’m outsourcing interior design, covers, and formatting). But I still want to have books traditionally published, and I’m keeping my options open for my future works. Having a foot in both models will hopefully help me reach more readers, and if people are reading my books, however they find them, then I’m happy.
As a reader, I’d love to see more traditional small press books getting more exposure!
12: The always done and asked question. Who are your favorite authors? What are you favorite books? What are you reading now? Tell us. Tell us!
A: So, my favourite authors definitely have to be Jean M. Auel, Virginia Woolf, Louisa May Alcott, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Rick Yancey, Richelle Mead, Cormac McCarthy, Pintip Dunn, T.A. Maclagan, and A.A. Milne. I love all their books, and they’re all auto-buy authors for me.
I’m currently reading Warleggan by Winston Graham.
13: I’ve got to know…what’s your favorite word to use. Every author has one. What’s the word you catch yourself using a lot? We’ve all got those as well.
A: My favorite word to use varies a lot! At the moment, it’s a close call between ‘malleable’ (because I love the way it sounds), and ‘discombobulated’ (though I don’t think I’ve ever used it in a manuscript!).
It wasn’t until my editor pointed it out to me (and made me change a lot of the instances) that I realized I use the words ‘copse’ and ‘corpse’ a lot in my writing…sometimes in the same paragraphs! Now, I often catch myself using those words when I’m drafting and am surprised by how often they pop up.
14: Tell us about your latest release. Or, when can we expect your next one? What are we in store for?!
A: My latest release is the new edition of Untamed. It’s a new-look edition, so the only things that have changed are the publisher, cover, and interior design (seriously, the pages are so beautiful, in both the ebook and the paperback), but the words themselves are the same.
Here’s a little info about Untamed:
“A fantastic dystopian tale. Highly recommended for fans of strong heroines and intriguing sci-fi worlds.” Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author
As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides–because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human being.
But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate.
Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes.
Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.
15: Lastly, where can we find you? Facebook? Twitter? Website? Links to your material. Go on, don’t be shy. Share!
A: I’m @MadelineDyerUK on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
I’ve also got a newsletter you can sign up for at http://www.MadelineDyer.co.uk/newsletter
My books can be found at all the major retailers. Here are a few links for Untamed:
Link to a landing page containing all retailers: https://www.books2read.com/untamed
Untamed‘s page at my website: http://madelinedyer.co.uk/fiction/untamed/
Thank you so much for having me here! You asked some great questions.
Bio: Madeline Dyer lives in the southwest of England, and holds a BA honours degree in English from the University of Exeter. She has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes. Her debut novel, UNTAMED, examines a world in which anyone who has negative emotions is hunted down, and a culture where addiction is encouraged. Her second novel, FRAGMENTED, debuted September 2016.